Danceworks were phenomenal.
The Alexander Kasser Theater always provides the set for a wonderful night out, from its gorgeous interior design to the spacious modern seating and courteous and helpful ushers, but it seems to have outdone itself with its presentation of “Danceworks 2013.”
The Danceworks pieces featured dozens of talented Montclair State University student dancers, highlighted not only by their excessive aptitude for the sport, but also the gorgeous lighting design and costumes. Each number was distinct and memorable, something that is not always easy to do in such a case where so many dances are being presented.
The Danceworks started with Powers of Ten, a number that was noted for its unique display of the contrast in uniformity and individualism. The men and women were costumed in the same outfits, and they all moved in unison. The slow choreography was accented as each member of the group was given a solo within the piece. Each dancer was sat on a platform, all of varying levels. The height differences helped with the form of the piece, the lights and shadows adding to the hypnotizing effect of the music.
The Danceworks’ second number – the “Daughters of the Night” chorus from Night Journey – by contrast had a much more urgent, unsettling feel to it. The music was very violin-heavy, presenting a melody that had the audience leaning forward in their seats in anticipation. The piece opened on an empty stage that was soon rushed with a group of girls, all dressed in matching black and blue outfits – with the exception of the lead dancer, dressed in purple and grey. Whether or not intentionally, the color of the costumes gave a majestic feel, adding an undertone of royalty to the lead dancer. The music was matched with jittery motions from the dancers, very different from the slow careful movements of the first number.
“Continuous Replay” gave off a very different atmosphere than is often experienced in dance shows, seeing as the dancing was accompanied by very little music and most of the piece was done in silence, accompanied by sighs, claps, hisses and stomps from the dancers. This definitely fit with the theme of transformation, as the stage was constantly being flooded with new dancers as others took their leave. As they came and went, the dancers acquired more and more items of clothing until they were dressed all in white. Continuing to leave and come back on, they undressed again and returned dressed in all-black. The lights followed the main dancer, and as more and more people filled the stage, manic music was added, accompanied by shouting.
After the Danceworks’ intermission, “Runaway” hit the stage, a piece that was much like the “Daughters of the Night” chorus in that the music and movement was very disorganized — a beautiful, chaotic mess. The dancers, taking a more dressy approach, were decked-out in brightly colored dresses for the ladies and suits for the men. The lighting design was very selective, only lighting the bits of stage that expressly showed the main dancers.
“Winter for a Year” was the only partner-dance of the show. Done entirely under blue spotlight, this piece was the simplest, but also perhaps the most easily beautiful. Megan Gecik and Andrew Mannion, the two dancers, moved in perfect harmony, easily balancing each other as they used each other’s bodies to do flips and perform intricate partner moves.
“Approaching Silence” was unique in that it featured actors. The tone of the piece was extremely surreal, the music not quite having a definite melody, the ensemble dancers rushing across the stage in monotonous masses, acting as a crowd to be lost in.
The Danceworks ended with “I See You,” a dance number that contrasted all of the other pieces in that is was extremely upbeat and happy sounding, the music something close to hip-hop. The dancers were all dressed in suits, the jackets split up the back to enable arm movement. Blending a clean-cut look with a poppy upbeat tune, it was a good end to the show.
“The dancers showed exceptional form and there was incredible attention to detail,” enthused audience member John Teixeira. Referring to the dialogue in “Approaching Silence,” he jested, “afterward I had the inexplicable urge to go for a walk.”
Danceworks 2013 was another successful Peak Performance from Alexander Kasser Theater. Keep an eye out for more great shows coming up soon! The next show is the Shanghai Quartet on April 12 at 7:30 p.m.